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Noem Votes for Surveillance State, Rejects Amash Amendment with Paranoia

Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan proposed an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have defunded the National Security Agency program that collects our telephone call data. The Amash-Conyers amendment would have limited the NSA's phone-data collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act to specific individuals under investigation.

In other words, Rep. Amash's amendment sought to restore in a small degree the Fourth Amendment.

The House voted down the Amash-Conyers amendment yesterday. South Dakota's lone Congresswoman, Kristi Noem, voted against Amash and the Fourth Amendment. Her justification for mass surveillance of her fellow Americans:

Rep. Noem believes more stringent oversight of the NSA is needed, but completely scrapping the program in question would seriously limit our ability to stop terrorist threats and protect American lives [Courtney Heitkamp, spokeswoman for Rep. Kristi Noem, quoted in "Kristi Noem Votes Against Anti-Surveillance Measure," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2013.07.24].

Please note that Rep. Noem's no-vote excuse is detached from fact. As Rep. Amash and Libertarian blogger Ken Santema make clear, the Amash-Conyers amendment did not "completely scrap" NSA surveillance. It left in place surveillance of individuals under investigation and surveillance of foreign communications. Rep. Amash contends that he sought restriction solely on the blanket surveillance that hasn't produced much bang for the Constitution-wrecking buck:

The amendment concerns Patriot Act Sec. 215 alone, not Sec. 702. The administration’s one and only public example of a Sec. 215 “success” is the conviction of a taxi driver for sending money to a Somali group. Reports suggest that the Somali group posed no direct threat to the U.S., the investigation did not uncover an imminent threat, and the data could have been obtained without Sec. 215. For that “success,” the government has collected billions of Americans’ records [Rep. Justin Amash, "Amash NSA Amendment Fact Sheet," official Congressional website, 2013.07.24].

Hey, Stace Nelson! Care to reconsider that focus on the Senate race?

Update 09:08 CDT: Poor Gordon Howie can't even get an amen from Tea-Party sweetheart Rep. Michele Bachmann, who joined Rep. Noem in voting against the Amash Amendment.


  1. Michael Black 2013.07.25

    The saying goes "Dance like no one is watching".

    We now must live our lives like everyone is watching all of the time and act accordingly. You cannot be assured of privacy any more. The capability exists for the gov't to record all of your phone calls and texts as well as your location using GPS built into your cell phone. Your new car that has all of the helpful technology like OnStar could be transmitting your car's speed and location as well. If your car is older, the police have license plate readers to check you out. We can only guess how many video streams (and youtube videos) we appear on every day that are being recorded and our identities confirmed using facial recognition technology. Every post on FB and every email is being captured and stored somewhere. It would probably scare us if we knew the true abilities of the NSA.

    It is foolish for us to assume that any legislation is going to change the amount of data the gov't gathers on all of us. The data will always be kept available for future use in case of investigations.

  2. Les 2013.07.25

    So you're not saying for Kristi to continue "dancing like no one is watching" MB? That we capitulate to this regardless of their intentions or continuing actions is criminal, on our part as well.

  3. Jerry 2013.07.25

    You are correct Les, Ms. NOem finally voted yes on something and it completely wrong headed. Why does the government need to know who I speak with or where I go? Don't even go to 9/11 changed everything either. This spying is wrong on everyday folks, it is wrong.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.25

    But it is not foolish, Michael, to try to get legislation that works in that direction. Down with defeatism!

    Frankly, 9/11 didn't have to change jack. Bad dudes do bad stuff, always have, always will try. We face the same choice between liberty and security that we always have. And after 9/11, we overreacted by passing the Patriot Act. The terrorists won a small victory by getting us to sacrifice some of the freedoms they despise.

  5. mike 2013.07.26

    Let's hope she gets challenged by Rep. Kaiser, May, Greenfield, Latterell or Russell. Certainly one of them is willing to take a position on this issue.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.26

    Mike, everyone of those names makes me nervous as a Congressional prospect. Kaiser, May, and Latterell aren't ready for a statewide campaign, are they? Russell plays well with Stace Nelsoin; does Russell have the fire in the belly and connections to challenge Noem?

  7. Trekker 2013.07.26

    Kristi usually gets things right for South Dakota!!!!!! She cares and Dems do not, except for BIG Government. [Editorial note: Fake name, no confirmable ID.]

  8. Owen Reitzel 2013.07.26

    "Kristi usually gets things right for South Dakota!!!!!! She cares and Dems do not, except for BIG Government."

    Examples Trekker

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